David White

Professor, MA MEng PhD Camb.

  • The University of Western Australia (M470), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


Professor Dave White holds a fractional role with UWA as the Shell EMI Professor of Offshore Geotechnics, alongside his role as Professor of Infrastructure Geotechnics at the University of Southampton in the UK.

Until mid-2017 he was based at UWA, in the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems and the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering. He was previously an ARC Future Fellow and had been a Professor at UWA since 2007. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Australasian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Institution of Engineers Australia, the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK) and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects.

Dave completed his undergraduate (BA, MEng, 1998) and post-graduate (PhD,2002) degrees at the University of Cambridge, and was appointed to a Research Fellowship at St John's College in 2001 and a Lecturership in Cambridge in 2003.

The Shell EMI Chair in Offshore Engineering is an initiative by Shell and UWA which aims to strengthen UWA and Western Australia’s position as a global offshore engineering hub, through world-class research and education. Dave was the inaugural Shell Chair of Offshore Engineering holding this role from 2013-2017, before the role was taken up by Professor Phil Watson in late 2017 after Dave's departure to an academic role in the UK. Shell also supports three other UWA academics, Professor Mike Efthymiou, Dr Wenhua Zhao and Dr Hugh Wolgamot; the scope of the Chair activities spans offshore engineering, from metocean, through structures, to geotechnics.

Dave has over 15 years of research experience focussing on the mechanics of soils, foundations and pipelines, primarily for the offshore industry. He has led experimental and numerical studies into geotechnical mechanisms at micro- and macro-scale which have been used to understand the behaviour of piles, foundations, pipelines and submarine slides. Simple design methods have been devised, which are widely used in engineering practice.

Particular use has been made of two novel research techniques: (i) image analysis for deformation measurement and (ii) geotechnical centrifuge modelling. PIV analysis software developed by Dave and Dr Andy Take (Queens Univ., Canada) is used at >75 research institutes worldwide and has had a significant impact on geotechnical centrifuge modelling practice.

His research has been supported by the ARC (via the Linkage, Discovery, Linkage International, Centre of Excellence and Future Fellowship schemes), as well as the equivalent funding bodies in Hong Kong and the UK. Industry support has been provided by various oil and gas operators (BHP, BP, Chevron, Petrobras, Shell, Total, Woodside and others through the SAFEBUCK JIP) and service companies (Acergy, Advanced Geomechanics, Benthic, Fugro, Talisman, Technip, WorleyParsons and others also through SAFEBUCK).

The outcomes from his research have been disseminated through >300 publications. His papers have been awarded the Bishop Medal, the Telford Premium, the RM Quigley Medal, and RM Quigley Honourable Mention and the BGA Prize (three times). He was awarded the 2010 Anton Hale Award by the Australian Academy of Science, for distinguished research in earth science, and he was Western Australia's 2011 Young Scientist of the Year. He is active in engineering practice, consulting widely on foundation and pipeline design for the offshore industry.

Dave has served on the editorial boards of three journals and two ISO standard committees (concerned with jack-up foundations and pipelines). He is Secretary of the ISSMGE's Technical Committee 2 (Geotechnical Physical Modelling), and led the RIGSS Joint Industry Project and the geotechnical aspects of the SAFEBUCK and STABLEPIPE Joint Industry Projects on on-bottom pipeline design.


Offshore pipelines
Offshore site characterisation
Geohazards, submarine slides
Foundation analysis and design
Geotechnical centrifuge modelling
Image-based deformation measurement

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Research expertise keywords

  • Offshore pipelines
  • Offshore foundations
  • Offshore geomechanics
  • Offshore engineering
  • Geohazards
  • Submarine slides
  • Foundation analysis and design
  • Site investigation
  • Geotechnical surveys
  • Penetrometers
  • Spudcan penetration
  • Centrifuge modelling
  • Image analysis
  • Numerical and analytical methods
  • Soil mechanics
  • Soil-structure interaction


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